Lightning fend off Hurricanes’ late flurry to take early lead

Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away almost everything, while Barclay Goodrow came through with an opportunistic go-ahead goal midway through the third period.

And just like that, the Tampa Bay Lightning responded to another road environment with the confidence forged amid last year’s Stanley Cup championship run.

Goodrow beat Alex Nedeljkovic at 12:39 of the third period and Vasilevskiy had 37 saves, helping the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Sunday night to open their second-round playoff series.

Brayden Point also scored for the Lightning, who weathered a high-energy start from Carolina and continued the Hurricanes’ postseason frustrations on the power play.

Vasilevskiy was the key in both. He had 15 saves in that first period with the Hurricanes buzzing out of the gate backed by a rowdy home crowd of more than 16,000. Carolina also went 1 for 5 on the power play.

“He can just track the puck so well,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Never gives up on a puck and just stays to his strengths out there. … We know he’s a big backbone back there.”

The Lightning swept the first two games at Florida in their six-game first-round series, then handed Carolina its first postseason home loss after its six-game series against Nashville. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night.

Goodrow’s winner came when he headed left against Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei, then shot from a sharp angle on the left side. Nedeljkovic dropped down but left space between his pad and the post — and the puck slipped through to break the 1-1 tie.

“The puck had eyes, obviously,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “But good things happen when you shoot the puck. That was a good example of it.”

It was a mistake for Nedeljkovic in another otherwise strong performance with 28 saves.

‘It was a bad goal’

“It’s no use hiding it … it was a bad goal,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He made a lot of good saves tonight, too. That’s part of it. We’ll bounce back and he’ll bounce back. We’ve got to score more than one to win anyway. That’s the way I look at it.”

That lead held, with the Lightning holding off Carolina’s final minute with the empty net and extra attacker in a desperate tying attempt.

Jake Bean scored on the power play to tie it early in the third for Carolina, which entered with home-ice advantage after winning the Central Division.

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